Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"if I leave you it doesn't mean I love you any less"

The Tarceva is most definitely not working. We got the results to Dad's chest CT today, and his main tumor has grown, as well as an addition of 5 or 6 new ones. The tumor on his adrenal gland has also grown. After weeding through his report and a lot of googling, I found out he has airflow obstruction and part of his lung doesn't inflate properly. All this probably is related to his extreme fatigue. He's been doing poorly for the last week, so Mom and I are not really surprised at this. Dr. Kelly wants him to get in asap for another brain MRI, and then next week he'll start on a new chemo drug - a really nasty sounding one called Pemetrexed. The side effects sound pretty heavy, and he's already in a weakened state. So, we begin more rounds of chemo and labs, and we wait.

I'm sorry, but I can't be eloquent right now, there's the reality of where we're at right now.

Shadows are fallin'
and I'm runnin' out of breath
keep me in your heart for awhile

If I leave you
it doesn't mean I love you any less
keep me in your heart for a while

When you get up in the mornin'
and you see that crazy sun
keep me in your heart for awhile

There's a train leavin' nightly
called when all is said and done
keep me in your heart for awhile

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"When your heart is an empty room, with walls of the deepest blue"

My Mom has always referred to June 9th as the Worst Day. Thirty-eight years ago today, her mother, Adeline, passed away from ovarian cancer. She discovered a few years back that our good friend Krissie shares this same dreadful anniversary: she lost her mother on the same day, same disease. Different year.

Today it is pitch black out. Thunder is rumbling, clouds gathering. Literally and metaphorically. We have been waiting on results from a lung biopsy a dear friend had on Friday. I wrote to Krissie: "Today she gets to charge the beach and see if it's a group of Girl Scouts or Hitler's army she's up against." On this darkest of days, I get the news that it is indeed a recurrence of cancer she battled five years ago. I'm angry. She did this already, she fought hard and bravely, she beat it and regained her health. And all while being fabulous, because she is. She's amazing and funny and has been a good friend to me while I have walked this path with Dad. And as before, I find myself asking 'why?'

Why her, why not me? Why not you? I want to believe in God's plan, I do. I want to have faith, but it's such a hard, narrow path. There's no easy explanation for why bad things happen. There's no pert, pat answer to tie it up neatly with a little bow. Life is messy and complicated and painful, and while we all know this in the abstract, God, it's so hard in the reality of it.

I am once again left helpless. Words are failing me. It's taken me over an hour to write just this - I am mute with pain. Pray for my friend, for her family and children. Pray for a quick recovery.

The flames and smoke climbed out of every window
And disappeared with everything that you held dear
But you shed not a single tear for the things that you didn't need
Cause you knew you were finally free

Thursday, June 4, 2009

'would I have been a better person, if I could only do it all again?'

Lung cancer still remains one of the most underfunded and under researched cancers. While there have been cutting edge leaps and bounds for breast, prostate, colon - as well as increased survival rates and early detection - the numbers on lung cancer have not changed much in the last 10 years. It's still the #1 killer among all cancers. It kills twice as many women as breast cancer. I encourage you to go to this link and read about it. I don't want to take anything away from the work that has been done for other cancer survivors, but the stigma attached to lung cancer just doesn't hold water. It's easy to think 'they're all smokers, they brought it on themselves' - but that's not always true. My father has never smoked a cigarette in his life. But that aside, even if they have, we're still talking about mothers, fathers, daughters, wives, sons... they deserve the same chance at life as anyone else. No one 'deserves' cancer. No one. When Dad was diagnosed, I can remember sitting in the hospital room watching him sleep, listening to every ragged breath, thinking 'what has he done to deserve this? What have we done as a family to bring this on?' The answer is: nothing. It's a genetic crap shoot. Not to mention a century of slowly poisoning the Earth. It doesn't matter anymore how well you eat or the exercise you get or the antioxidants you consume. It's everywhere: the air we breathe, the water we drink, the materials our homes are made of, the plastics we heat our food in, the food we consume. There's no escaping it. I find myself thinking that it's not a matter of 'if' I'll get cancer, it's a matter of 'when'.

Dad is doing well, for now. We're thankful for Dr Kelly and Dr Massey, they are what has kept him alive all this time. Them, and his rediculously stubborn, feisty, fighting spirit. The man tells cancer to f&*k off on a daily basis. We try not to dwell too much in the long term, because we all know what the future holds. We don't know when- a month? a year? - but we do know the ending to his story. We're just not sure about the middle part.

Summer has returned, and I find myself feeling deja vu, taking my late night walks, listening to my music, thinking about life and death, free will vs. destiny. My empathetic, sympathetic heart has been working overtime lately, and I am positively aching for people in my life. I found myself thinking, if I found out I was going to die tomorrow, how would I feel about the state of my life? What would I want my epitaph to be? My house isn't perfect, rarely clean, laundry never caught up. There is usually some sort of animal poop I'm shampooing out of my rug. I'm usually quite disorganized. I've never been any of the places I dream of going: I have not hiked up Roraima or seen Angel Falls. I have not snorkeled around the blue hole or seen the tortoises in the Galapagos Islands. I have never finished my college degree or written a book. I can go on and on about what I haven't done. And yet, I know what I have done: given up my college education to become a single mother at 23. Been a devoted mother to my kids, a good daughter and wife. And hopefully, the type of friend that people know they can lean on. My epitaph would say: good mother, wife, and daughter. Kick ass friend. And she could bake one hell of a pie. I think I'd be good with that. In the end, those are the things that matter the most to me.

and the sky is filled with light
can you see it?
all the black is really white
if you believe it
and the longing that you feel
you know none of this is real
you will find a better place
in this twilight